March 2018

"WHAT ARE YOU SAYING?" by Anthony de Mello

The master imprints his wisdom in the heart of his disciples, not in the pages of a book. The disciple might carry this wisdom for thirty or forty years, hidden in his heart, until he meets someone ready to receive it. Such was the tradition of Zen.

The Zen master Mu-nan sent for his disciple Shoju one day and said, "I am an old man now, Shoju, and it is you who will carry on this teaching.
Here is a book that has been handed down for seven generations from master to master. I have myself added some notes to it that you will find valuable. Here, keep it with you as a sign that I have made you my successor. “
"You had better keep the book yourself," said Shoju. "1 received your Zen without the help of written words and I am quite content to let it be that way."
“I know, I know," said Mu-nan patiently. "Even so, the book has served seven generations and it may be helpful to you too. Here, keep it with you."
The two happened to be talking near the fireplace.
The instant the book touched Shoju’s hand he flung it into the fire. He had no lust for written words.
Mu-nan, who was never known to be angry before, shouted, "You must be crazy! What are you doing?”
Shoju shouted back, "You are crazy yourself!
What are you saying?”

The guru speaks with authority of what he himself has experienced. He quotes no books.


"The Superlative Horse" retold by Deng Ming Tao

Arabian Horse Drawing 2013 09 13a
by Angel Ciesniarska

Duke Mu of Qin said to Bo Le, his best judge of horses: “You are growing old. Could I ask your sons to find horses for me in your place?”

Bo Le replied: “Anyone can find an excellent horse by looking at its build, its color, its muscles, and its bone structure. But only a rare few can find a superlative horse that raises no dust and leaves no tracks. Although my sons have the talent to find excellent horses, they cannot see a superlative horse. However, I do have a friend named Gao who is a firewood and vegetable hawker. His ability to choose horses is as good as mine. Please talk to him.”

So Duke Mu summoned Gao and hired him to look for horses. Gao returned after three months and reported that he had found a horse in Shaqiu.

The duke asked him eagerly: “What kind of horse is it?” Gao replied, “It is a brown mare.”

Duke Mu sent for the horse with great excitement. But he was disappointed weeks later when the grooms brought him a black stallion.

The duke was speechless with anger and summoned Bo Le. “This is terrible. The man you recommended doesn’t 2 know the difference between colors or whether a horse is a stallion or a mare! How can he possibly judge horses?”

Bo Le sighed deeply. “Has he progressed that far? Then he’s worth a million of me and there is no comparing us. His vision is superior! He sees the divine workings and the subtle essence instead of coarse appearances. He sees what’s inside and is not fooled by what’s outside. He sees what ought to be seen and ignores what ought to be ignored. Gao can truly judge horses!”

Bo Le asked to see the steed. When it was led in, he saw right away that it was a superlative horse.


"THE GURU’S CAT" by Anthony de Mello

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When the guru sat down to worship each evening, the ashram cat would get in the way and distract the worshippers. So he ordered that the cat be tied during evening worship.

After the guru died, the cat continued to be tied during evening worship. And when the cat expired, another cat was brought to the ashram so that it could be duly tied during evening worship.

Centuries later, learned treatises were written by the guru’s scholarly disciples on the liturgical significance of tying up a cat while worship is performed.

SOURCE: Anthony de Mello, The Song of the Bird ,
(Image; Reprint edition, 1984) page 63